In the Los Angeles of 2050, a detective struggles to solve a mystery that threatens her understanding of the truth in McPheeters' (The Loom of Ruin, 2012) second solo novel.
Terri Pastuzka is in some ways your stereotypical hard-bitten detective: divorced, depressed, and alcoholic. But she's also an LAPD homicide detective in a future where cops use PanOpts—smart sunglasses hooked into a nigh-omnipresent surveillance network—and she lives and works in a Los Angeles that's been flooded by enormous numbers of refugees from a nuclear India-China war. Between the technology's pervasive impact on both detective work and the general culture and the social ramifications of a downtown LA taken over by an impoverished minority, there's fresh ground to tread here. Like all good crime thrillers, the story begins with a murder (unfortunately, more than 40 pages in). Terri investigates the death of a “nobody” Indian refugee, but when the trail leads to a different, high-profile murder, she becomes embroiled in politics, the public eye, and a rising body count. Her hunt for answers brings her into direct conflict with a “post-truth” society, where narrative trumps facts, and Terri discovers that everyone—and everything—she trusts may be lying to her and that everything she loves is threatened. It's a tense and paranoid ride to the truth...and a somewhat anticlimactic villain reveal. All the same, the book's powerful themes—the relationship of police to policed, trust in governmental authority, trust in the media, immigrant tensions, and generational change—are sharply executed, and the groundwork is well-laid for a possible sequel.
Though McPheeters takes a bit to find his stride (and belabors his technological exposition in the meantime), the story is worth the wait and might just leave you hesitating before taking the next reblogged video at face value.